Essential Foods for the South Beach Diet

Essential Foods for the South Beach Diet

In the 1990s, Miami-based cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, set out to improve his patients' eating habits by developing his own healthy diet to defend against significant medical diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to the South Beach Diet website, the diet is named after Dr. Agatston's area of practice, and it immediately gained popularity in the Miami area.

What Is The South Beach Diet And What Is Its Purpose?

The South Beach Diet excludes processed carbohydrates, particularly white flour and sugar. People following the diet are encouraged to limit carbs and focus on lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy carbs — such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruit — in order to lose weight, enhance their health, and eliminate the cravings that cause the classic hunger-overeat-gain-weight cycle.

The South Beach Diet differs slightly from other low-carb regimens, such as the Atkins diet. According to the Atkins diet website, the Atkins diet may require 16.7% of calories to come from saturated fat. Meanwhile, the South Beach Diet advocates ingesting only 10 to 15% of calories from saturated fat rather than increasing consumption of good fats.

Furthermore, the South Beach Diet does not avoid certain types of carbohydrates: "South Beach in the long run encourages a diet that includes complex carbs — whole grains, beans, lentils, etc. — and fruits," explains Natalie Stephens, RD, of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. "If followed as originally recommended, the South Beach Diet resembles the DASH diet, with plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meats, plant-based oils (not coconut oil), and low-fat dairy." That is a really science-based diet." According to Stephens, such diets have been demonstrated to improve health by decreasing cholesterol and high blood pressure.

How Does The South Beach Diet Work?

The South Beach Diet: A Beginner's Guide

The South Beach Diet places a strong focus on hunger control, which involves eating before it strikes. To that purpose, the South Beach Diet contains three distinct phases: Phase 1 lasts two weeks and tries to "reset your body" by burning fat, increasing metabolism, and reducing sugar and starch cravings. Phase 2 is for consistent weight loss, in which you incorporate beneficial carbs into your diet. Phase 3 is the weight-maintenance phase, in which you learn how to keep your new weight without deprivation or hunger.

"The phases help 'jump-start' some weight loss," Stephens explains. "It's a mental thing: When patients see early success, they're more likely to stick to the plan." She adds that the several phases assist people adjust to a new lifestyle, as phase three is essentially a lifelong choice rather than a "diet."

A Detailed Look at South Beach Diet

A Closer Look at Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet

Like the other phases of the South Beach Diet, phase 1 enables you to have three meals, one dessert, and two snacks per day. However, the first phase of the program offers the most limited food options: You can only eat lean protein sources, high-fiber vegetables and legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy products, including specific cheeses, and beneficial unsaturated oils such as olive oil.

Phase One Lasts Two Weeks

The goals of this phase are to wean you off all of the junk food you've been eating, to limit your options so you don't have to overthink your diet, and to eliminate cravings by controlling your blood sugar.

"The way to control overeating is to control blood sugar and your insulin response by eating every three to four hours, and eating a high-fiber diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and heart-healthy fats," explains Barbara Schmidt, RDN, a private practice in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Refined carbohydrates have an impact on blood glucose management. Have too many refined carbs at once — a big bagel, for example — and you'll be hungry again sooner and more likely to eat something you shouldn't be eating, says Schmidt, who adds that the South Beach Diet restricts those troublesome carbs better than other diets.

A Sample Menu for Phase One of the South Beach Diet

Here is a proposed menu for phase one from the South Beach Diet website:

  • Breakfast South Beach: Complete Shake

  • Snack Plain Greek yogurt with fresh dill and lemon juice, served with celery sticks and cherry tomatoes.

  • Lunch: Grilled chicken, half an avocado, and boiled broccoli.

  • Snack: South Beach Diet Peanut Chocolate Bar

  • Dinner Baked fish, white beans, sauteed cabbage, and garlic

  • Evening Snack: Almonds

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What Phase Two of the South Beach Diet Looks Like

South Beach Diet: Phases, benefits, what can I eat?

In phase 2 of the South Beach Diet, you will incorporate whole grains and fruits into your diet, and you will stick with this part of the weight-loss strategy until you accomplish your target. "These carbohydrate-rich foods are high in fiber and [are low on the] glycemic index — these good-carb choices have more staying power, take a long period to be processed and absorbed by the body, and prevent the purported fluctuations in blood glucose and quick secretions of insulin," says Susan Kraus, RD, a clinical dietitian in New Jersey and a registered dietitian.

According To The South Beach Diet, In Phase Two You Can Have:

  • One serving of fruit every day, such as a small banana, two medium plums, or a cup of mixed berries (such as strawberries and blueberries).

  • Consume 1-2 servings of starchy vegetables daily, such as 1/2 cup of winter squash or sweet potato.

  • Some healthy carbohydrates include 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, 1 tiny tortilla, and so forth.

You Should Still Avoid Foods Such As:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice cakes.

  • White potatoes

  • Fruit juices

  • Dried fruit with extra sugar

  • Sweets include ice cream, honey, and jam.

A Sample Menu for Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet

  • Breakfast: Pita with spinach, eggs, and feta cheese, vegetable juice, tea or coffee.

  • Snack: Assorted vegetables with cilantro and pesto dip.

  • Lunch: Curried turkey and green salad

  • Snack: Apples and peanut butter sandwiches

  • Dinner: Edamame appetizer, Louisiana-style shrimp and rice, roasted tomatoes with Parmesan cheese.

  • Dessert: South Beach Diet-style tiramisu.